Police break up CSG blockade

WEEK OF ACTION: Protesters at the Leewood wastewater treatment facility on Monday.
WEEK OF ACTION: Protesters at the Leewood wastewater treatment facility on Monday.

ANTI-coal seam gas activists have continued to disrupt Santos activities in the Pilliga forest, staging small protests throughout the week, including a 22-hour blockade of the company’s pilot gas wells that had to be broken up by police.

At 9am on Tuesday, police were called to end the overnight standoff, which started at 10am on Monday.

Santos said the group of eight protesters restricted access at two separate sites where the company was undertaking routine pump maintenance, delaying work for about three to four hours.

“Three of the protesters slept at the site overnight, with another five protesters joining in the morning. When the police arrived, the protesters left the site without incident,” Santos general manager of energy NSW Peter Mitchley said.

“While Santos respects the right of people to partake in peaceful protests, we have appropriate approvals to undertake this work.”

Protester and Coonamble farmer Mark Robinson said the peaceful direct action was to remind Santos there were many locals “willing to go to great lengths” to protect their groundwater and communities from gasfields.

“We’ve had a reprieve, as Santos has not been actively engaged in any work in the Pilliga for some time. Now, unfortunately Santos is again progressing its plans for the Narrabri Gas Project, the largest CSG proposal in NSW, and we’ve again been forced to take decisive action,” Mr Robinson said.

“The message is loud and clear – if they push ahead we are fully prepared and ready to step up as well. 

“Santos can bank on the fact community outrage is still there and we will fight them every step of the way.”

The same group also staged protests on Wednesday and yesterday, blockading the Dewhurst rig site for about four hours.

A spokesperson for the protesters said during yesterday morning’s blockade “contractors turned around and drove back towards Narrabri”.

On Monday the protesters blockaded the construction site of the company’s Leewood wastewater treatment site, which is at the centre of a court battle over the legality of its approval.